Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

Category 5

As you probably know by now, the Hurricanes won the 4.0 and 4.5 divisions at Sectionals and earned trips to Tuscon. There are so many people who stand out over a Sectionals weekend. Some that caught my eye:


The whispers started with his subpar performance in the HTA Open. "Tim shouldn't be in the starting lineup." "Green doesn't practice enough." "He's past his prime.".  While it helps having a partner like Bryan Taylor, Green was magnificent this weekend. The duo was not tested, winning all three of their matches handily.


After seeing the beatdown this guy gave to the rest of the 5.0 field, it's hard to imagine that he was playing 4.5 just a couple of years ago.


Where are the singles studs? Who's going to play #2 singles behind Sydney? These are the questions I asked myself all year long. Quietly, Mussenden and Martinez have led the Canes to two straight Nationals trips. Moose destroyed everything in his path this weekend. Any questions raised in his early season loss to Schnyder were answered. Martinez seems to never wilt in the heat, and showed the same guts we saw in City playoffs against Cooper. His record was also spotless until being pulled off the court in the Championship match.


I definitely weren't expecting them to be fixtures in the doubles lineup in the semis and finals, but they came up big. Nice win over Slezak and Morrison on Sunday.

The Ringers

The "ringers" had mixed results. Ringers are hard to define. Let's just say they're guys who rarely get tested and can usually win without too much effort. Bryan Taylor was exceptional. The much ballyhooed Sydney Jim really didn't contribute. On the 4.0 side, Chris Rossi was everything he was supposed to be, and more. He played 6 matches in 3 days, never resting, and never losing. It's nice when you can count on one line as virtually automatic. Ryan Reeves played well, but didn't trample the competition like many expected. His doubles win in the tight finals was key.


The 57 year old slicer/dicer had a tall task: facing a 22 year old in the midday heat in the Sectional finals. That 22 year old was 18-0 in 4.0 competition this year, including a resounding 3 and 1 win over Janek in the finals at Tyler. After getting trounced in the first set, he pumped himself up, took the second and won an emotional 3rd set breaker to clinch the title. All of his hard work and training paid off.


Freeman calls them (us) "Thursday night guys", which is not a pejorative term. They're easy to write off. They're not in the lineup on Sunday at Sectionals, but they fill an important role. You need guys who are good enough to win during league season and yet will be realistic about their status as "role players". (Every team has a 12th best player that thinks he's in the top 6) Beinart is the best Thursday night guy in history. I haven't seen another one like him in my 17 years of league tennis at 5.0, 4.5 and 4.0.

I have a math degree, love sabermetrics and spend half my days on fangraphs and baseball-reference. I believe in numbers and think "intangibles" are generally highly overrated. But when Freeman told me Beinart's cheering may have made the difference in three matches, I believe him. His enthusiasm is infectious, pumps up his teammates and distracts opponents while staying within the boundaries of good sportsmanship.


I thought the Unicorn 4.0 team was the most solid one we faced, perhaps just lacking a dominant singles player to push them over the edge. Freeman and Benzon have raised the stakes here in Houston and others are responding. Houston has to be among the most competitive cities in the nation. City playoffs were tougher for us than Nationals in 2011.

4.5 Hurricanes

Just wanted to say I thought it was cool that a bunch of the 4.5 guys hung around Dallas after their finals and came out and supported the 4.0 team. There's not a lot of interaction between different levels, and it showed a lot of class.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sectionals Talk

No big preview here. I'm sure most people are aware of the Houston teams who will be playing in the Dallas heat this weekend. Will try to post news and notes if possible.

Best of luck to all the locals. Hope all the top players make the trip.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Congrats to Jason Freeman for steering two more teams to Sectionals and padding his already impressive resumé. Yes, we all know the Hurricanes were heavy favorites. But upsets happen. See Serena, Wimbledon.

The 4.5 Hurricanes pretty much waltzed through the field, dropping only one line over the weekend, to Zach Marnitz, who proved he was the real deal by going 3-0 in the playoffs. Say what you want about Freeman and the Hurricanes, but they dominated despite having no self-rated players, and only used Sydney Jim once, in doubles.

The 4.0 Hurricanes went into the weekend without the services of Ryan Reeves and Bobby Dornbos, (not to mention Chris Babbington) probably two of their top five or six players. Freeman managed to play fourteen players over the weekend, giving playing time to players sixteenth (or lower) on the depth chart. Despite that, the Hurricanes dropped only 3 lines in their 4 matches. While Chris Rossi deserves the MVP award, Brad Beinart deserves honorable mention for his enthusiasm. Every team needs a guy like that.

It was nice to see Old Schoolers Jody Deluca and Allen Teague continue to grind out victories after all these years. The duo was 2-0 on the weekend. The Good-er Guys win the "biggest disappointment" award, going 2-13 in their three matches and matching Teague/Deluca in total wins.

Kim Lequoc had a nice weekend before running into the buzzsaw that is Chris Rossi. Garrett Browne and Dang Huynh were dominant in all three of their doubles matches for the Unicorns, as were Zach Salinas and Diego Cairampoma for Copperfield. In fact, Copperfield won just one other line. Phil Kerig made an appearance in singles?? Wasn't expecting that...

Monday, July 8, 2013

City Playoffs

There's less than a week for trash talk, speculation, accusation and whatever else usually leads up to City Playoffs. The 4.0 festivities begin on Friday evening while 4.5 starts bright and early on Saturday.

One of the underrated facets of captaining is convincing your players to put things aside and commit to playing in the "big" matches. Teams like the Hurricanes which consist of players plucked from all over often lack that bond that other teams have. There are at least three key players in 4.5 whose statuses are a question mark, at least in my mind. Any time a team has stud players who play one match and get written into a default, you have to wonder just how committed that guy is. The Hurricanes have two such players, Sydney Jim and Bryan Taylor, and if Freeman can get them out there, they give the Canes two huge legs up in any match.

While I was under the impression that Zach Marnitz had been cleared for play, his 0.0 under "Find a Rating" is curious. Marnitz played 3 high quality 4.5/5.0 types in the HTA Open in April: Hersh Pise, Bryant Mohns and James Bui, winning 2 of 3 and being extremely competitive in the other one. And that was in April...a kid his age could well have improved since then. That said, I don't think he has enough help to make ETU a true factor to win. Silas will have to help. Bear in mind, 4.5 players and captains, that a Wild Card is always a possibility. Second place is worth fighting for.

The buzz is around the Good-er Guys right now, with many onlookers proclaiming them co-favorites. I'm not totally buying the hype. The Hurricane team made it to the final four in the nation last year with (in my opinion) a much weaker roster. Sure, they haven't shown great strength in singles, but Martinez and Mussenden did just fine last year when asked to play.

Old School...well, they have a win against the Canes as well as a ton of experience. They won't be an easy out.

Admittedly, I often look at things through a Hurricane prism, which hopefully is understandable. In 4.0, when looking at the Canes' flight, I have to wonder: How many players from the other rosters could make Freeman's rotation? Copperfield: Salinas for sure. After that? Solis? Orchard? Westside: Hobbs and Gomes probably. Anyone else? Corey Kruseman may have slipped under some peoples' radars. He was a solid player at Stratford. This team may have some sleepers. For ANS, Madamba, Vargas, Narvarez, Soria and Ye all have wins over current Hurricanes earlier in the year. But the Hurricane summer team will be much stronger than their 40+ team and I don't think ANS has upgraded since then.

The other flight is much more interesting to me. Lakeside is what we thought they were. Singles is the question mark. Kris Jacobs came up big in the 40+ playoffs against Janek, but also struggled with Madamba. Rutherford was overmatched in the playoffs last year. Soto will have to carry a heavy load.

I still don't know exactly what the Unicorns have. Saw Sheldon Henderson hitting on a distant court. Looked powerful. We'll see what he's got this weekend. Paniagua is dangerous. He hasn't been used in singles yet this season. Deshazo, Mohan, Lequoc, H. Nguyen, Q. Nguyen...they've got some pieces to work with.

The Good Guys don't seem to be as strong as last year's team. It will be tough sledding for them. They'll need a clutch performance from the Sandwich Blaster. Sienna is more dangerous than you might think.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Playoff Schedule

The playoff schedule has been released. In 4.5, teams will play two matches on Saturday, July 13th, and one on Sunday. As I'm sure you know, the four teams who qualified are: The Hurricanes, Enter The Unicorn, Old School and Good-er Guys. Players from several teams were out at Memorial Park yesterday readying themselves for the playoffs.Hopefully everyone will have all of their key players available.

In 4.0, Flight One consists of: Ace-N-Spinners, Good Guys, Unicorns and Lakeside. The teams in Flight Two are: Hurricanes, Shock-N-Awe, Westside Warriors and Sienna Plantation. Interestingly, the Hurricanes/Sienna and Ace-N-Spinners/Good Guys were in the same flight in the regular season. I'm not sure if this was an oversight or a change in philosophy. Perhaps the flights may be altered.

The 4.0 schedule has a match on Friday night, two matches on Saturday, and just the Championship match on Sunday.

Friday, June 28, 2013


I actually made it to my first team practice yesterday at LLTC. My weekly doubles game with Pumma, Benzon and Pham had been cancelled this week.

My tennis during practice was as bad as ever, but even worse was the surprise that awaited me afterwards. A smashed window, and a missing wallet which had been barely visible in a compartment inside.

I don't know if those cameras in the parking lot are just for show, but the police didn't even bother to come down to the courts.

The thieves apparently hit every gas station in the area before I got home and cancelled the credit cards.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Only Nerds Will Care, But...

So, I had a bunch of free time today and I was looking at the Austin 4.5 league again and I got to thinking: Is it harder to get disqualified from 4.5 this year?

Obviously, here in Houston we had Troy Toole but I keep coming back to  Kevin SerwatkaTim Klitch and Conrad Ramirez in Austin, all of whom are self-rates or appeals. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't their records look a lot more impressive than Toole's? I was assured by people in the know that Toole's DQ was 3 strikes related and not a result of self rating too low based on his previous play. Maybe I was misinformed?

Austin did well at Sectionals in 4.5 last year, going a combined 6-2. Since ratings filter down, you would think they'd be fairly high overall in the capital city.

Anyway, I looked at every other 4.5 league in the state, and unless I missed something, there hasn't been another 4.5 disqualification other than Troy Toole. Strange.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

As you know, I'm frantically trying to change the topic from Sydney Jim so that maybe you'll forget about him, so let's take a look at what's remaining in the regular season.

The Deucebags and Good-er Guys reported their 5/30 match score yesterday: a 3-2 Good-er Guys win. The Dbags also reported a 3-2 win over the not-so-incredible Hulks.They have a one game lead with their 4/18 match against Copperfield still to be entered. The Good-er Guys also have a match remaining with Copperfield.

With just one Wild Card in 4.5, the loser of the Dbags/GG division race will have to get past the second place team in the Old School/Hurricanes division. Old School sits at 8-1 and has a big edge with a 34-11 record. If they are swept in their last match and both the Dbags and GG sweep their Copperfield finales, that puts OS at 34-16 and GG at 27-13. Hmmm...I'm figuring this out even as we speak, so I probably have made an error or am not understanding the situation properly, but that would give OS a .680 winning percentage and leave GG at .675.

Has Old School clinched? Of course, the other possibility, unlikely as it may seem, is that Old School beats the Hurricanes in their rematch and also the Hurricanes drop a bunch of other lines in their matches with the Gautamizers and Gypsies, opening the door for the DBags or GG.

The third possibility is that somebody somewhere gets DQ'd and it changes the standings around for one of the aforementioned teams. Again, not very likely.

Somebody correct me if I've made any errors here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Troy Toole

We had a 4.5 DQ.

Troy Toole, of the Good-er Guys, who was a self rate and had played 4 matches, 3 at line 3 doubles and one at line 2 doubles. Not exactly a high risk DQ, one would think. But as you know, the computer sometimes has a mind of its own.

I quickly looked him up on that ratings website I mentioned last week, and he was listed at 4.48 (through matches of 5/17), so he was in the danger zone. It adds some credence to the algorithm being used by that website, in my opinion.

The DQ moves the Deucebags into first place, and drops the Good-er Guys to 5-1. I'm guessing that he was playing in the rain interrupted match between the two teams, but I have no knowledge of that. It definitely makes the Wild Card race interesting. The Good-er Guys may end up on the outside looking in, despite a talented roster.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wow, What a Slow Week

A quick perusal of the schedule shows only two matches that are marginally interesting. The 4.5 battle between the Hurricanes and Nottingham Forest has playoff implications. The first matchup between the two teams was not all that competitive: a 4-1 win for the Canes with all four wins in straight sets. Still, number one singles between Antoine Ford and Jorge Cuesta was 7-6, 7-5 and Old School did not use Quack Bui in singles, so there is some hope for a closer outcome. Barring a blowout, Nottingham Forest should be in good position to secure the Wild Card spot, unless the Deucebags close like a freight train. The DBags still have 4 matches whose scores have not been reported.

In 4.0, the Unicorns battle the JCC Dudes. While the Dudes will not catch the Unicorns (barring an unlikely DQ), they are still in contention for a Wild Card, but will definitely need a win to stay in the hunt. Calculations for Wild Card spots may have to take into account the fact that the MD Anderson Tigers dropped out of the league, allegedly in response to a perceived threat from the Unicorns. I'm really not sure of all the details there, as I had been out of the loop. The Unicorns did add unknown Sheldon Henderson this week. Late season adds are always worth extra scrutiny, as many cagey captains try to supplement their rosters right before playoff time.

Friday, May 31, 2013

How did I not know about this?

I'm guessing a bunch of you know about this already, but I just found this cool site about tennis ratings.

I quickly looked at the ratings for this year in Houston (basically just checked my own and a few teammates) and it looks pretty accurate at first glance. They have me at 3.75, which seems about right given my mediocre record this year.

Other tidbits: Ryan Cooper the highest rated player playing out of LLTC this year, barely in 5.0 territory.

Chris Lee at 4.47, close to 5.0 but still safe.

Bharath Gururaj honing in on 5.5 territory.

Anyway, if your Friday is as slow and boring as mine has been, this site might help kill a few minutes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Winding down

The season is rapidly coming to a close. Remember, players must appear in two matches (one may be a default) to participate in City Playoffs.

There doesn't appear to be much drama coming down the stretch. The 5.0 Sectionals berth has basically already been decided, with Westside - Church Group having an almost insurmountable lead.

For me, the story in 4.5 the rest of the way is the Chris Lee situation. There's been talk of him being protested. I have no idea whether that will happen or if it will be upheld, so I will proceed under the assumption that he is legal, will continue to play and all matches will stand. If that is the case, it creates some interesting decisions for Phillip Yang. He's got two matches remaining, both against bottom feeders. He can sit out Lee and win without him, or he could play him, maybe at line 3 doubles, and have him "take it easy", thereby lowering his rating and making him more likely to retain eligibility throughout the playoffs.

The two other contenders in that division will clash this week. Again, Chris Lee has got to be a consideration for Captains Warren and Ristau. IF he somehow gets DQ'd, perhaps this match ends up deciding the division title. The Wild Card situation is still a possibility.

The Deucebags and Gooder Guys also have a match with huge implications on the playoff race this week. Have we seen the Deucebags best lineup? Will David Hall be playing singles this week? If my memory is correct, there is only one 4.5 Wild Card this year. Right now, Nottingham Forest looks to be the favorite, but they've still got one match left with the Hurricanes and there are several teams on their heels. A Deucebags win this week would make things quite interesting.

Not too much intrigue in 4.0. The Good Guys play a surprising Acers team this week. A loss would harm their chances at winning the division and/or getting into City Playoffs via the Wild Card.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Local results from Westwood.

I'm not really up on the Seniors Tournament Scene, but in my mind Westwood is the biggie.

Some local results:

Tim Green lost in the semis of the 35 singles to Nick Smith, who went on to win the tournament.

Tim and Herb Morton lost in the first round of the doubles.

Former 4.0 Hurricane Jason Kern made it to the finals of the 40 singles where he lost to Juan DeKruyff.

Kern also managed to make it to the finals of the 35 doubles with Justin Huffman where they lost to former number one doubles player in the world (in 2000) Jared Palmer.

A tough go of it for Houstonians in the 45 singles. Kelly Ward was upset early, Herb Morton lost in the first round and Andres Ballesteros stretched the number two seed to three sets before falling.

Val Wilder has probably been top ranked in the world in his age group in past years, so I was really impressed that Robert Bickmore was able to stretch him to 11-9 in the third set breaker before falling. Wilder also took out Eric Kruseman.

Carl Poston won a round in the 55's.

Hugh Burris lost in the finals of the 65's.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quick Thoughts...

I don't know the guy, but I think it's time we started giving props to the Sandwich Blaster. Based on his results, his game has improved a bunch.

Herb Morton keeps on truckin'. Nice win for him last night.

Ace N Spinners and Good Guys battle to win their division is something I'm keeping my eye on.

Will Singles be the downfall of the Hurricane 4.5 team?

What happened with Black Sheep and Enter the Unicorn last night?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sad News

It was brought to my attention yesterday that Michael Spoor passed away a few weeks ago after a battle with melanoma.

I didn't know him well, but in my brief meetings with him I found him extremely engaging and very likable. Mike captained competitive teams in 4.0 and really dominated the local senior league scene. He captained four teams to Nationals.

He lived quite a life. His obituary can be found here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What's goin' on

Yeah, this blog has gotten to the point where once in a while I will notice something and post it here. If anyone wants to take up some of the slack, have at it!

Some good matchups in 4.0 this week. The Hurricanes and Sienna are virtually tied and have their first meeting down at Sienna Plantation this week. On paper, with their best team, the 'Canes should prevail, but Sienna is dangerous.

Upsets have been in short supply so far, but the Ace N Spinners loss to the Acers puts them behind the 8 ball. They'll take on undefeated The Good Guys this week, and now may be in a position where they have to sweep them. At this point they certainly can't count on a wild card slot.

Biggest 4.0 surprise to me thus far: Double Trouble.

The 4.5 Hurricane team is stacked. Can YOU figure out a "top 8" from that roster? I can't. Regardless, the Gypsies team they play this week IS 5-1. Jason Kanthack has quietly put up a very impressive doubles record over the last year or two, but really, who can play singles on that team? I smell a blowout.

The DBags continue to hang around, and both the division and the Wild Card are still in play for them. They will need to punish a scrappy Hulks team that they handled pretty easily in the first go-around.

Another big match this week is between Enter the Unicorn and the Black Sheep. Usually by this time, Tommy Ristau's crew has a stranglehold on their (typically easy) division. Not this year. After inexplicably losing to Serve and Folly last week, Westside's consecutive playoff berth string looks to be coming to an end. They haven't really infused any new talent onto the team this year.

Somebody emailed me this question over the weekend: Name the top 10 doubles players in 4.5 right now. Tough question. You can choose Kiser without Richardson, Brice without Hirvela. Or both. Or vice versa. Discuss, since I'm bored at work.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

In the past two years Kiser and Richardson have taken the court together 20 times in league matches.

They are 20-0.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

HTA Houston Open

I took a glance at the draws yesterday, and at this point I'm obviously not the most educated of observers, but my two cents worth:

I'll be very surprised if Odion and Tim Green lose in the 4.5 doubles.

The 4.0 singles intrigues me the most as there are possible matchups between several of my teammates: Eddie Janek, Tuyen Nguyen, Bobby Dornbos. All three of them have chances to do really well in the tournament, and it'll be nice to see how they're playing at this point in the season.

Where is the new blood in the 4.5 singles? That division needs an infusion of youth or new names. Nice to see people like Herb Morton still going strong and earning the top seed.

I saw Javier Chavarria and Don Rios playing a practice match at the Met about a month ago. A shame they have to meet in the first round of the 40's.

Ward Jannuzzi is making an appearance in the 55's. Haven't seen him since his move to Florida. Might be worth a trip out to CHS (if I can figure out what/where that is).

Is anyone gonna' beat Rob Collins?

League rosters are filling up quickly. I haven't studied them yet. Any surprises? Post in the comments.

I suppose I should also mention that the 40+ league has had some good turnout. The quality of play, to me, seems to be a notch below the summer league, but that's to be expected. City playoffs are just around the corner. Should be some competitive matches.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tri-Level Rehash

I went out to Kingwood on Saturday morning to check out some of the Tri-Level stuff. The quality of play was quite high this year. I've always said that tri-level is a great event and really wish there was more participation locally.

I really don't know more than what's been reported by the commenters. My understanding is that the Houston team went into the last match in a practically hopeless situation. Austin had won their first two matches and Fort Worth needed Houston to beat Austin in order to have any chance at advancing, and in fact pleaded with the Houston team to give their best effort, as it would be most fair for everyone.

While Fort Worth was worrying about Austin, they apparently didn't realize that by sweeping, Houston would put themselves in a position to win as well. After watching the Houston team in the morning match, this seemed EXTREMELY unlikely. I believe Tony Le was essentially captaining both the Fort Worth and Wild Dallas teams (could be wrong about this) and could have chosen to have his players retire in order to assure a 3-0 victory for Fort Worth, but instead allowed them to play it out. Well, witnesses reported that the line one match between Benjamin/Huynh and Luedtke/McClinton was won by Wild Dallas in the super tiebreaker. Apparently, when Le found out what happened in the Houston/Austin match, he realized his error and told his players to report the match as a 6-1, 6-1 win for Fort Worth.

It took them something like an hour to sort things out, and shamelessly no player who was on the court admitted the truth. Some Houston players witnessed the match but as biased observers their evidence was discounted.

It's hard to put a stop to someone captaining two teams...we've seen it locally quite a bit. Quite often, the person listed as the captain is just a figurehead for someone else controlling the team. I've probably been listed as captain myself a couple of times when I was doing very little actual captaining. There's a lot of shadiness in League Tennis, but the backroom dealing and/or match fixing is the worst of it. Not really sure how it can be prevented. I hear whispers every year about someone possibly laying down for someone else to allow their friends' teams to qualify for city playoffs. When there is so much smoke, there must be some fire behind those rumors.